The U.S. has removed the COVID-19 test requirement for inbound air travelers from abroad, effective June 12, 2022. Airlines and others in the travel industry were increasingly pushing the administration to drop the requirement, arguing it was hurting demand for international trips. The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the U.S. travel industry,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. ““International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector. More than half of international travelers in a recent survey pointed to the pre-departure testing requirement as a major deterrent for inbound travel to the U.S.”
The Canadian government also made travel testing changes, temporarily suspending mandatory arrivals testing for vaccinated travellers to assist with current congestion at airports. Both announcements mark an important milestone for the North American travel and tourism industry as it attempts to rebuild following more than two years of restrictions and shutdowns.
As of June 20, the federal government is further suspending vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound travel, federally regulated transportation sectors and federal government employees. Due to the unique nature of cruise ship travel, vaccination requirements for passengers and crew of cruise ships will continue to remain in effect.
“The mandatory vaccination requirement successfully mitigated the full impact of COVID-19 for travellers and workers in the transportation sector and provided broader protection to our communities. Suspending this requirement is possible thanks to the tens of millions of Canadians who did the right thing: they stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and got vaccinated. This action will support Canada’s transportation system as we recover from the pandemic,” said The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport of Canada.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable applauded the new changes but wants the federal government to continue following the science and lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions governing the sector.
“After two long, hard years, we are now focused on rebuilding tourism back to the economic powerhouse it was pre-pandemic,” said Beth Potter, president and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada. “However, while this is good news for domestic and outbound travel, it does not address any of the current issues for inbound travellers or our cruise sector. I urge the federal government to now turn its attention to eliminating barriers to travel in these important areas and do so quickly so we can promote a resurgence in travel over the summer months.”